Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Three Novels You Might Enjoy

If you haven't gone to the bookstore yet, here are some titles I think are especially good.

Crackpots: by Sara Pritchard
Brief beautifully written book about an awkward young girl being raised by an eccentric family. Note that there is no child abuse or other hot button stuff
engineered in to make the book appeal to the Oprah book clubs, just a humorous and bittersweet novel of
a girl, beset with any number of glum circumstances and embarrassments, maturing to a resilient adult
with soft irony that gets her through the day. Pritchard is especially fine as prose stylist.

The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powell.
A New York comedy of manners set in the Forties, it concerns a married couple comprised of a famous playwright and her husband, an academic who labours at his speciality in obscurity. Powell is one of the better comic writers we've had --a spikier Edith Wharton, shall we say--who provides momentum, atmosphere and rich, crackling dialogue in this many -charactered satire. This would be the sort of novel Tom Wolfe has been trying to write for years. We have here a situation where the fortunes of famous wife and unknown husband are suddenly and realistically reversed, a turn that reveals the shallow relations and loyalties, tied as they are to one's fortunes. Or lack of them.

Big If--by Mark Costello.
Remindful of Don Delillo's White Noise this is a novel Lyotard (a French convolutionist) would have love, a postmodern situation comedy.Brother and sister, he a programmer for an online game called Big If, and she a Secret Service agent assigned to protect an unnamed Vice President considering a White House bid, find their respective personal lives to be wrecks or otherwise nonexistent, finding solace and purpose only in their professionalism and the attending rules and inscriptions that govern their individual trades. It is quite funny --laugh out loud, to use a foul phrase from movie blurbs-- and what it shows is how the rules and respective philosophies , no matter far reaching and inclusive in what they address as issues of existence, are finite, small and doomed to fail us as we try to apply to spontaneous, fluid situations.

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